Vinyl chloride monomer Prices, markets & analysis
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Updated to Q4 2014
Despite falling feedstock ethylene prices, vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) producers said that price margins remained extremely tight as derivative polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices fell steeply as well. As PVC producers formed the majority of VCM buyers, VCM price trends closely mirrored PVC price trends throughout the fourth quarter (Q4). PVC average prices softened from $970/tonne FOB (free on board) northeast (NE) Asia in the week of 3 October to $857.50/tonne FOB NE Asia in the week of 5 December. Meanwhile, average VCM prices fell from $890/tonne CFR (cost & freight) NE Asia to $750/tonne CFR NE Asia over the same period.
Due to the wide buy-sell gap, both buyers and sellers commented that it had been difficult negotiating in Q4. In response to lower price ideas from buyers, some VCM producers chose to reduce their operating rates and produce less VCM. Instead, they would only discuss contracts, a northeast Asia producer said. Similarly, buyers who could not purchase any spot VCM cargoes at their price ideas either chose to buy on a hand-to-mouth basis, fall back on their present inventories, or to buy contractual cargoes.
Updated to Q4 2014
The European vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) market has been focused on some unplanned production issues at INEOS’s VCM operations at Tessenderlo and Rafnes during the fourth quarter, on top of other ongoing upstream ethylene and chlorine output constraints.
Despite these output limitations, there has been no evidence that they have given risen to any merchant VCM demand. This is because chlorvinyl systems are integrated for the most part and VCM is mainly captively used, so any output constraints through the chlorvinyls chain are generally managed internally.
In addition, VCM freight costs are expensive and therefore chlorvinyl players prefer to purchase upstream ethylene dichloride rather than VCM for economic reasons, as well as the market being more liquid. VCM merchant spot prices have been steady at $680-720/tonne FOB (free on board) northwest Europe (NWE) during most of the fourth quarter, due to a dearth of market activity/merchant price indications.
Updated to Q4 2014
The US vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) market saw prices weaken during the fourth quarter as global prices moved down in Asia.
US producers had to contend with higher feedstock costs from ethylene on a number of cracker outages that sent prices for derivative PVC up in September, but quickly began to lower.
Ethylene moved down to an average of $910/ton in November from $1,090/ton in September (from 54.5 cents/lb to 45.5 cents/lb).
That helped producers save margin as they began to price more competitively to maintain export share.
US exports of VCM are up 2% so far this year and in November surpassed 1m tonnes for the first 11 months of this year. Most of that business supplies PVC manufacturers in Colombia, Mexico, Canada and Australia and is done through contract.
US PVC spot export prices fell, too, down from $970-990/tonne on an FOB US Gulf basis in mid-August to $800-830/tonne during the first week of December.
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